Monday, October 26, 2009

Old art, Old Friends, and an Old Me

Since the London convention, things have continued to be busy and hectic as hell. I am certainly not complaining, but i will say I am happy to see the end of over a month of running around. It will be good to focus on simply tattooing again. If i can i plan to even get the kayak out in the river for some fall smallmouth/sauger fishing... a guy can dream cant he?

Just after returning from London Turk had a day to relax here in PA before returning to San Diego. The highlight there was going to the Brandywine River Museum. It was a quick visit, but it made me realize i need to go back there more often. An amazing collection of the Wyeth families work, as well as a solid collection of one of my favorite artists, Howard Pyle.

After Turk returned home, I had less than a week to focus on work at the shop before leaving for a short trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire with Holly and Hoss. Every year around my birthday we try to get up there to visit friends, do some tattoos, and just get away from home for a bit. This year was rushed, but i wasnt about to miss the chance to get up there. First stop was in Mass to see some dear old friends for a day of tattooing and relaxing. I didnt get the chance to get any photos but it was no less a grand time.
The next day we were off to Portsmouth to visit more friends and work out of Hobo's Tattoo Shop in town. Most of the time there was spent tattooing, but we did get out a bit to hang out and talk shop. The Tattoo Shop there is one of my favorite places to work, including my own place. Its a pretty amazing group of artists. Definitely worth checking out if you are ever in the area. Jason Scott owns Hobo's, and just opened a second shop in town called Congress St. Tattoo. Both shops support each other and compliment each other in town perfectly. I couldnt be happier for them!

 The reason it was a rushed trip to New England this year was a tattoo convention that was arranged aboard the Warship Olympia at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. So Jason and his wife Kim returned home with Holly Hoss and I to attend the show. The concept of the show was pretty amazing, and the idea of working aboard an 1800's warship was too much to pass up. I am certainly grateful to Troy for inviting us to work it. In a time when conventions seem to be getting bigger and bigger, it was refreshing to be a part of a select group of folks where there were only 27 booths. Anymore it seems shows try to cram in hundreds of artists into a room all in the name of the mighty dollar.

All that said, the show was dead. It was a shame more folks didn't make it out. Between the weather that weekend, the Phillies playoffs (go  phils!) and simply little or no word out about the show made for a really quiet time. I was pretty busy as I had booked ahead of time, But many of the other artists were not so fortunate. It made for a chance to talk with other tattooers, and make some new friends so at least there was an upside. I would certainly try it again if it was to be put on again, simply to support the idea of a smaller show like that one. Not to mention the ship itself was Amazing!

Oh and by the way... The first day of the show, Fri 16th, was my birthday. A pretty rad place to spend your 36th birthday in my opinion. Sitting tattooing friends on the oldest steel-hulled American warship afloat, that served as Commodore George Dewey's flagship during the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.

After the convention I had a the next week to prepare for the Pushing up Pumpkins art show we put on at Mercury each of the past 4 years. Between getting everyone's artwork together,  labeling it all, hanging it all, decorating the shop, finishing my own painting for it, and of course drawing and tattooing all my regular apointments... it was a brutal week. I will post a separate blog about the show when i get the photos from the opening. It was a great turnout! well worth all of the effort and expense to put it together. Holly of course was the one that really allowed it to come together. She decorated and cleaned the shop almost entirely by herself. I'm a pretty lucky fella indeed.
Here are some shots of the painting i worked out for the show..

And lastly here are a few pics from home. I was able to get out a bit and enjoy fall this aint over yet, but with halloween this weekend, the fall is ending soon indeed.

Hoss loves the fall as much as Holly and I!

These shots are all from the house and yard...


Friday, October 9, 2009

The london Convention kicked me in the ass.

So this trip forced me to look at myself and my approach, in a way that I absolutely needed. Everywhere we went, from the visit to the Tate Britain to the pubs across town, all the way to the convention itself; I was forced to realize it’s time to step up my game.
The Tate was an inspiration for all of the obvious reasons. Anyone that has seen these paintings in books and collections that doesn't sit back and curse to themselves when they see the real thing, will get nothing out of this post. The part I want to go into with this post, is the overwhelming repeated presence of the thought, "why the hell aren't I producing with the focus and intensity that these folks are?"
When looking at the work in the museum it is easy to point out that many of those folks were paid handsomely to do just what they did. But there are as many, or more, that did what they did because they simply had to. Their drive and focus was unwavering and it showed throughout. That same attitude was as clear all over the city. Even the pubs contained examples of what an individuals passion when directed and realized can accomplish. I absolutely do not limit that to fine art. When the drive is applied to a fellows pub, or shop it shows in every way. From the beer, to the choices in food presentation, all the way to the more obvious decor. One pub we visited had cobwebs and dust on every picture and odd decoration... But the fellow running the place had so clearly put his heart into the place and the people in it you would have to be a stone to remain uninspired.

As for the convention it was of course motivating as hell. Seeing folks that I respect, and watching their approach was overwhelming. Especially when I was forced time and again to ask myself, "why the hell aren't I producing with the focus and intensity that these folks are?"
I recognize I am good at what I do. My biggest issue is when I view my approach as compared to the folks I respect. I am absolutely not fishing for anyone to tell me anything uplifting. I am not upset or questioning myself that way. This is simply to point out the fact that I recognize my need to embrace more fully my goals, ambitions, and really... my passions.

The folks I got to spend my time with this week were the perfect storm to humble me, and make me think so solidly about my approach. The fellow I traveled with, Turk was absolutely a catalyst for lighting a fire under my ass. We were both equally humbled and inspired by the sights and conversations of this past week. The place where I win is that I got to be humbled and inspired by him as well. It was good being able to discuss just what can be done to find and embrace the drive to be the best we can be. Much of it comes down to making the time to focus on each individual piece of work. I have the tendency to get caught in routines and they inevitably lead to ruts. That needs to change.
The other folks that I was lucky enough to sit with over dinner and drinks were more than inspiration. Safwan, Jee, Stef, Demetri, and Eric are each a fine example of what realized drive and passion can accomplish. I can only hope to get across the feeling of awe when looking at the quality and volume of work they put out. It is humbling to say the very least. If you follow the links I attached to their names you can at least get a feel for what they are about.
So to sum all of this up... I plan to make some changes in my life, my work, and my drive to embrace them. This certainly is not solely the result of this single trip, bit this week absolutely crystallized this feeling that has been building for a while now. So thanks to the folks I listed already, thanks to the others that don't even realize the impact they had on me this week, and lastly thanks to my girl for putting up with and supporting this realization.
I'll keep you posted.

Below are some Photos from the trip...

Me and the Tower Bridge

Turk and a belly full of pig

Jee, Safwan,Turk, and a sexy beast

Eric, Turk, and Safwan

New anatomy book from the Tate and goodness at The Nag's Head
They were playing Johnny Cash and a ton of other great music the entire time we were there.

Dinner at Black Friars' Steak Pie = awesome

Turk and I along the Thames.

Outside the Tate

A meal uneaten.

Sewing machine in a window.

Turk in the booth.

One of the tattoos I did there. The other photos all are lousy. I'll post em when i get good ones.

Me at Black Friars.